Dutch chipmaking equipment outfit ASML has agreed to buy Taiwanese peer Hermes Microvision (HMI) for about $3.1 billion.
The move will strengthen the pair’s technology offering for semiconductor manufacturers and is one of the biggest inbound acquisitions for Taiwan,.
It is the latest consolidation in a global semiconductor industry faced with an increasingly saturated smartphone market.
ASML is the world’s biggest chipmaking equipment supplier, with customers including TSMC, Intel and Samsung. HMI’s technology is used to scan and test for wafer defects in the semiconductor manufacturing process.
Both companies, which already work together, will be able to share research, development and intellectual property under one roof, analysts said, which is key as their customers migrate toward ever smaller and more advanced manufacturing processes.
ASML Chief Executive Peter Wenninck said in a video posted on the company’s website explaining the deal’s rationale. “The times of point solutions are gone. We need integrated solutions.”
ASML’s acquisition of HMI will be part-funded by about $1.69 billion of debt and all the i’s will be dotted and the t’s crossed by the fourth quarter.
A firm said that it will introduce a 3D printer that’s small enough to make things in your office.
Zortrax said its Inventure printer reproduces features in high quality 3D devices.
It includes a closed casing, double heads, easy replacement of cartridges and a 130x130x120 working area.
CEO Rafal Tomasiak, who also helped design the printer, said that Inventure was created to suit office space, such as architectural studios.
He said that while engineers, designers and architects are core users of 3D printers, his company also gets inquiries from both the medical and automotive industries.
The printer will use a thermoplastic substance which is suitable for both prototypes and final objects with quality close to products created with injection mold technology.
Zortrax did not indicate how much the 3D printer will cost.
Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research have teamed up to make a 3D printer that can use fabric and that can also include electronic circuits to interact with people.
So far, the team has limited itself to layer together laser cut sheets of fabric to make soft objects like doll clothing and phone cases.
Soft fabric things like plush toys are still made by hand and the team believes layered fabric printing will automate production of these things.
The machine includes two fabrication surfaces – one a cutting platform and the other a bonding platform. Fabric feeds from a roll into the printer and a vacuum holds the fabric, with the laser cutting a piece out and the made to the desired shape. Once the process is finished, the support fabric is torn way to show the 3D object.
If you want to make a two and a half inch bunny using the Disney technique, making one will take two and a half hours, using 32 layers of two millimetre thick felt.
Wiring can be produced to create, for example, touch sensors and an antenna that will light an LED.
You can find more information, including a picture of the bunny and a video, by going here.
Fashion bag maker Intel is going to release a kitset for a walking, talking robot to match its nice handbags.
The robot will be made from 3D-printed parts that will be available to consumers later this year, if they are willing to assemble it. It will cost about $1,600.
The company’s Chief Executive Brian Krzanich was accompanied by “Jimmy” on stage at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The white 2-foot tall robot shuffled onto the stage, introduced itself and then waved its arms and then we think Jimmy came on.
Intel describes Jimmy as a research robot, but the company intends to make 3D-printable plans available without charge for a slightly less advanced version, and partners will sell components that cannot be 3D-printed, such as motors and an Intel Edison processor, in kits.
Apparently the robot can sing, translate languages, send tweets and serve a cold beer.
Owners of the robots will be able to program them to perform unique tasks. They can then share the programs with other owners as downloadable apps.
Chipzilla thinks that the price for the robot kits will fall below $1,000 within five years.
University of Louisville researchers claim that they are close to building a human heart with a 3D printer.
The big idea is to create a new heart for a patient with his or her own cells that could be transplanted. It could be a decade away yet, but it does mean that Sci-Fi nightmares about building a clone for spare parts probably will not happen.
Researchers have already used 3D printers to make splints, valves and even an ear. So far the University of Louisville team has printed human heart valves and small veins with cells, and they can construct some other parts with other methods.
Stuart Williams, a cell biologist leading the project, said they have successfully tested the tiny blood vessels in mice and other small animals.
Williams believes with a bit of luck they can print parts and assemble an entire heart in three to five years.
The biggest challenge is to get the cells to work together as they do in a normal heart, but ultimately an organ built from a patient’s cells could solve the rejection problem some patients have with donor organs or an artificial heart, and it could eliminate the need for anti-rejection drugs.
It would also mean that those whose hearts are failing but are not candidates for artificial hearts could have options.
Williams said the heart he envisions would be built from cells taken from the patient’s fat which is a little ironic given that it is probably too many fat cells which created the heart problems in the first place.
The 3D printer works in much the same way an inkjet printer does, with a needle that squirts material in a predetermined pattern.
Scientists in Scotland have come up with a method of creating 3D printers which can make human stem cells.
The researchers, at the Heriot-Watt University, can print human embryonic stem cells in a move which could revolutionise organ replacement in the coming years.
This is very important for the Scots as being able to replace a liver is crucial for the development of the species.
According to Humans Invent, the printer is able to print clusters of the embryonic stem cells delicately enough that they don’t get harmed in the process.
It uses a series of micro valves and Dr Will Shu, who was involved in the research, says this sort of printing is much gentler than ink jet printing.
As a result, the printer not only achieved a high stem cell viability but the cells also maintained the ability of a stem cell to turn into any other type of cell.
It means that the stem cells could make any type of organ or tissue and while 3D printing cells has been achieved previously, Shu’s group is the first to print human embryonic stem cells.
The technology is important becuase it removes the religious problems of harvesting cells from real humans.
Shares in outfits that flog 3D printers have fallen after a key analyst warned that they were a bubble waiting to burst.
According to Reuters, Citron Research said shares in 3D printers were vastly overvalued and that the technology has been hyped.
Recently the makers of 3D printers have turned an evolving technology used by manufacturers for over two decades toward consumers. They offer the prospect of producing everything from toys to tools in the home.
But Citron Research, run by California-based investor and notable short-seller Andrew Left, accused 3D Systems’ Chief Executive Abe Reichental of exaggerating advances in 3D printing.
A report said that this had contributed to a bubble in the shares of 3D printing companies.
The report said that “appearances have become completely unhinged from reality” when it comes to the mania created in ‘3D Printing’ stocks, and 3D Systems.
Citron said that behind every good bubble there is a good promoter and in this case we have the best in Abe Reichental.
Citron Research has made a name for itself looking at stocks it believes have been fraudulently and intentionally overvalued.
Its report pointed out that 3D Systems has made no significant advances in 3D printing technology in the past five years and that it has recently rehashed consumer products with little change.
While there is no doubt that 3D printers have a place in industry, today’s consumer-level 3D printers can produce little more than egg holders, combs and plastic sex toys, Citron Research said.
However, shares of 3D Systems have tripled over the past 12 months and recently traded at more than 42 times the company’s expected 12-month earnings.